Brentwood & Billericay Bridge Clubs Joint Project

Working together to ensure the future of Bridge Clubs in the Brentwood & Billericay Area

Hutton Bridge Club (Monday), Mayflower Bridge Club (Tuesday), St Edith's Lane Bridge Club (Wednesday), Mountnessing Bridge Club (Thursday)

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Affiliated to the Essex Contract Bridge Association and to the English Bridge Union

OPERATIONAL ISSUES

Posted 15/12/2011

  • The four clubs involved in this project have been described as "a loose agglomeration of uncommitted clubs" - perhaps unkindly, but probably a justifiable comment.
  • It is quite clear that in that guise we have absolutely no hope of getting a grant from anyone, and without a grant we have no hope of getting to a strong enough base to make any progress at all with a purchase / build approach.
  • Additionally, all the advice that we have had on the subject tells us that if we need grants, we need to be a Registered Charity.
  • Some members of the Project Group have long advocated a step approach to this project, rather than a 'big bang'. The arguments in favour of a step-wise approach are compelling, though possibly not via the steps in the order we have been thinking about, which to date have broadly run:
    1. Find premises (possibly interim / rented)
    2. Sort out the supporting organisation
    3. Grow the club, through attracting smaller clubs to join in and by establishing teaching sessions
    4. Acquire our own owned premises.
  • In the light of experience, it is becoming clear that the first step should in fact revolve around getting the appropriate organisation in place... If we could all commit to an organisation that could, sooner or later, achieve the other three steps, then that would be an achievement.
  • In the context of the 'new world', two different either / or models have been posed as to the way in which the organisation could work. However, on reflection it seems that:
    1. they don't have to be absolutely either / or - we could evolve from one into the other - and
    2. there is no logical reason why they can't apply to the here and now.
  • Please see the detailed discussion / proposal at this location.
  • We have always said that any specific proposal would go to the membership for a vote, and before that can happen the financial workings need to be turned into a business plan, and a draft constitution will be needed (easy - plagiarise the EBU standard model).  Additionally, we'll need a few formal policies, and we'll need a document that sets out day-to-day operating protocols. That adds up to a fair bit of 'paper-bashing'. We urgently need comments from the membership before anyone commits to undertaking that 'paper bashing'.

Posted 26/09/2012

These comments were gleaned from one or more meetings / conversations held during the past week - see the 'meetings' page.
  • Somebody must be 'in charge'. This comment says something about the debate as to whether the proposal should centre on a confederation of clubs or a merger; the 'somebody in charge' must be talking on behalf of a clear majority of the activity going on in the premises - e.g., the chair of a larger, merged club. There is room for 'sub-let' activity, but it must be a minority.
  • A host system has net advantage. Some clubs operate on the basis that pretty well every member takes a turn on a rota at being the host, approximately once per year. In exceptional circumstances, members can opt out of the host rota in exchange for a slightly increased membership fee.

Posted 07/09/2012 [From the meeting held on September 5th.]

  • We reinforced an earlier point that the ultimate decision about any new venture lies with the members. We agreed that we would not proceed with any specific proposal unless it carried the support of at least 75% of the members who would be directly impacted by it, but we would hope to achieve an even higher level of support
  • We agreed that up to the point of offering a specific proposal for a vote, there would be no formal constitution for the the project group; we recognised that some members of the group would be more able than others to undertake the detailed work, but all members of the group would be used as a 'sounding board'.
  • We recognised that any new organisation that might emerge from this project would need a strong leader with good administrative skills, and the support of an effective club management team. Additionally, it would be good to encourage as many members as possible to take on specific duties, thus helping to 'grow' a strong community spirit within the new organisation.
  • An early action by all members of the group is to seek to identify candidates to be that 'strong leader', and additionally candidates to form the committee of the new organisation. Some or all of those individuals would be invited to join the group to help to develop the proposal.
  • The '75% of members' comment above led to a discussion about '75% of what exactly' and that led into a discussion as to whether the new organisation would be a single new, large club, or a 'confederation' of clubs that worked together and shared premises, or what exactly. It was agreed that this point would be left open, but would have to be resolved as part and parcel of any specific proposal that emerged. One issue with the 'confederation' concept is that inevitably one particular club would have to act as the primary lessor and / or legal owner of the premises, and it might then be expected to carry an unacceptably high financial risk.

Posted 07/08/2012

Intitial thoughts and questions

It is worth noting that this issue is a very important element of the overall project, but it would be premature to devote too much energy to it until it became clear that this project could 'run'. It covers all the 'how would the organisation work?' issues, such as those recorded on the 'Comments' page. Specifically, it covers things such as:
  1. The club's constitution, roles, and responsibilities
  2. It provides answers to the detailed concerns about repairs and maintenance
  3. In consultation with the ECBA, it would address the concern about reduced numbers of entries for ECBA Invitational Teams Events
  4. How existing club identities are preserved
  5. Migration from the current disparate organisations to a co-ordinated one.
  6. How / who would teaching be organised, remembering that the origins of this project emerged from the idea of 'growing our own' new members
  7. Organising non-Bridge Social activites for members
It is noteworthy that part of the success of the Southend & Leigh Club is attributed to the 'community spirit' that is engendered by the fact that the majority of the members have a specified responsibility within the club, so it is very much 'their club'. They also have an active 'Social Sub-Committee' that organises non-Bridge events for club members.

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